Labour steamroller through plans to spend £12m on a new Council chamber

Labour members of Haringey Council’s ‘watchdog’ committee have voted to ignore residents’ views and rejected wider democratic discussion on controversial plans to spend £12 million on a new Haringey Civic Centre.

The Labour dominated committee refused requests from the Liberal Democrats and local stakeholders to refer the decision for further discussion at a Full Council meeting and instead voted to rubber-stamp the Cabinet decision.

Liberal Democrats, who forced the special Overview and Scrutiny meeting, pointed out that this was the largest discretionary capital expenditure since the Council’s ill fated Tech Refresh IT fiasco where a £10m budget became a £22m cost to residents. They criticised the decision for committing taxpayers’ money in the current uncertain economic climate and the lack of consultation of residents and current users of Woodside House.

Cllr Robert Gorrie, Leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats, commented:

“I am appalled by this flagrant extravagance, especially at a time when residents are struggling with rising rents, utility and food costs and just when the credit crunch is biting hardest.

“Labour have forced through a decision to spend £12m of residents money in order to produce what will likely be an empty white elephant that will serve to remind residents for years to come of the disaster that is Haringey Labour.

“This scheme has not had the examination that residents would expect for a scheme of this magnitude. Surely residents should be asked how they want £12 million of their money spent – yet Labour has once again ignored them and the hundreds of people who use the existing Woodside facilities will suffer as a result.”

Cllr David Winskill added:

“Overview and Scrutiny was an opportunity for Labour to have a look objectively at their decision to relocate the Civic Centre to Woodside House. There are clearly a host of uncertainties in the current plan and it would have made a great deal of sense for the Cabinet, particularly in the current uncertain housing market, to have taken a pause and ask officers to produce a more robust plan.

“I think that this will come back to haunt them in the coming years.”